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Articles of 2010

Andre Berto Blasts Out Quintana, Caballero Wins Too



SUNRISE, Fla. — Andre Berto was Fighting for Haiti.

Riding the crest of that emotion, the 26-year old welterweight champion was able to overcome an 11-month accumulation of ring rust and a debilitating biceps injury incurred in the opening minutes to score an explosive eighth-round TKO over former 140-pound champion Carlos Quintana Saturday night at the Bank Atlantic Center.

Berto said that the injury to his left biceps – “it’s either torn or pulled” – significantly impacted the course of the title fight for at least two reasons. One that by restricting the full extension of his arm, it took away the hook to the body that he had counted upon as a major weapon in the game plan against Quintana. The other was that when the Puerto Rican saw Berto wince in pain in the second round he was almost immediately emboldened, and hence opted to turn the fight into an inelegant back-alley brawl.

Of course, Quintana might have pursued that course of action even against a Berto with two healthy biceps, but for a while there it did become incontestably ugly. After Berto had out-boxed him over the first stanza, Quintana opened the second by stinging the champion with a straight left that appeared to wobble him. Berto did manage to hold on until his head cleared – though in doing so he brought himself into range of Quintana’s repertoire of elbows, forearms, and laces.

Then, before the third round was over, ‘Q’ had reverted to form: He spun his way out of a clinch and, winding up directly behind Berto, thumped him in the back of the head, an infraction that cost him a point deduction from referee Tommy Kimmons.

He never hurt me except when he hit me in the back of the head,” insisted Berto afterward.

Quintana elected to keep brawling and mauling, even when he seemed to be getting the worst of it. Before the fourth was over he was bleeding from a cut beneath his left eye, and by the time the end came four rounds later he was bleeding from cuts around both eyes.

Berto interrupted what had become a decidedly inelegant a fight, in the eighth. Early in the round he had send Quintana skip-stepping all the way across the ring with a glancing right, and it wasn’t much later that he landed the overhand right that proved the beginning of the end. Driving Quintana to the ropes he seized command to land 32 of 46 power punches, according to CompuBox, in the process of landing two dozen unanswered blows as he battered Quintana from pillar to post.

The attack was punctuated by a coup de grace of sorts – when a Berto right caught Quintana flush on his unprotected face, he pitched forward but somehow remained erect, but Kimmons, who could probably have stopped it any time over the final minute, at that point rescued Quintana at 2:16.

At the time of the stoppage Berto led 68-64 on the cards of all three ringside judges (Mike Pernick, Alejandro Rochin, and Jack Woodruff), and by the same score on The Sweet Science scorecard.

Berto remained undefeated at 26-0. Quintana, who had previously lost only to Miguel Cotto and Paul Williams, is now 27-3.

Lou DiBella’s eight-bout “Fighting For Haiti” card at the BAC had been stitched together after Berto, beset by concerns over his ancestral homeland, withdrew from a scheduled unification fight against Shane Mosley. Even though the proceeds from Saturday’s show were ticketed for two Haitian relief funds, tickets moved slowly, in part as a result of Don King having enthusiastically papered the house for a couple of previous boxing cards at the Sunrise venue. Not only were the locals slow to buy tickets for Berto-Quintana, many of them angrily demanded know why they weren’t getting free ticket “vouchers” for this one, too.

If it seemed unclear that there would be substantial proceeds to forward to the relief effort, Berto remained resolute. “Just standing there in the ring with the [Haitian] flag made a statement,” said Berto, who has quietly made several unpublicized trips back to Haiti over the past five months. “It showed them that we care.”

DiBella, noting that the effects of the 11-month layoff were evident in Berto’s performance, said later that he’d like to get his fighter back in action sooner rather than later, though that timetable may be dependent on a diagnosis and the rehabilitation period required for the biceps injury to heal.

In the co-feature, Panamanian Celestino Caballero (34-2), who holds the WBA ‘super’ championship at 122 pounds, moved up to featherweight and won a lopsided decision over an outclassed (and seemingly undersized, although the actual weight differential was but a quarter of a pound) Daud Cino Yordan to hand the 22 year-old Indonesian his first career loss.

The initial plan had been to match the two for an “interim’ WBA title at 126, but when the WBA declined to approve that arrangement it went ahead, and was described on the bout sheet as a “featherweight championship” fight, even though no championship of any description was at stake.

The 12-rounder was a testament both to Caballero’s amazing work rate and Yordan’s incredible capacity for absorbing punishment. Although he only went down once – and then, at the end of the second, when he left his feet to lunge at Caballero with a left only to walk into a right uppercut that dropped him in a neutral corner – the Indonesian was pounded for most of the evening, as Caballero hammered his body, his face, and when he couldn’t find either, his back.

In all Caballero was credited with throwing more than a hundred punches a round – his 1248 total represented the third-highest total in CompuBox history – while Yordan offered at a more modest rate of approximately ten per minute. (Caballero also out-landed Yordan, 379-105. Yordan, though on the defensive for most of the evening, did have his moments, and was able to catch Caballero with some stinging left hooks.

Caballero came close to going down in the final round, when Yordan landed a left that caught him off-balance. Thinking he had the veteran champion hurt, Yordan chased Caballero to the ropes and tried to follow up on his perceived advantage. Caballero, who was playing possum as he covered up, emerged from his shell to blow Yordan a kiss and then resumed his inexorable attack.

On judge, Ged O’Connor, scored it a whitewash for Caballero.  Rocky Young returned a 119-107 card, whileTom Nardone had it 118-108. TSS was slightly more generous at 117-110.

Miami middleweight Antwone Smith scored a devastating knockout, delivering a third-round body shot that left his Dominican opponent Frankie Gonzalez writhing on the floor. Gonzalez writhed right through Kimmons’ 10-cound, which came at 2:40 of the round, and was stlll writhing several minutes later. Attended by ringside physicians Robert Bolluch and Allan Fields, he eventually revived and departed the ring under his own steam. Smith is now 18-1, Gonzalez 13-5.

Although 122-pounder Guillermo Rigondeaux (who both withdrew from the Florida card and split with trainer Freddie Roach after reportedly absorbing a pummeling in a sparring session at the Wild Card Gym) was scratched earlier in the week, two other members of the latest class of Cuban prospects to turn pro appeared, if briefly, on the bill. Middleweight Yudel Johnson, having floored Chris Grays for the second time, was awarded a KO when the Michigan opponent failed to beat referee Telis Assimenios’ count at 2:04 of the first. (Just two weeks earlier Grays had gone the distance in dropping a split decision on the Dirrell-Abraham card in a fight that many ringsiders – including one judge – felt he had won.)

Johnson’s former Cuban National teammate, heavyweight Yunier Dorticos (4-0), made even shorter work of his previously unbeaten foe Zach Ziegler (3-1). Dorticos had rained blows almost at will on the South Dakotan even before the body shot that caused Ziegler to drop to the floor, where he took Assimenios’ count on his hands and knees at 1:24 of the round.

West Palm Beach middleweight Jonathan Cepeda (8-0)  knocked out Shadrack Kiproto in two), flooring the Kenyan with a left hook from which he could not recover before Assimenios counted him out at 2:31 of the round. Kiproto (18-16-2) had been stopped in five by Ronald Hearns on the Malignaggi-Diaz II card in Chicago last December.

The son and namesake of another accomplished middleweight of yesteryear, Willie Monroe Jr., posed 60-54 scores on the cards of all three judges (Pernick, O’Connor, Nardone) in his unanimous decision over a game Ibrahiem King (7-2). Monroe remained unbeaten at 8-0.

In another prelim, Joe Elegele, an unbeaten (6-0) welterweight from Berto’s hometown of Winter Haven, scored a third round TKO over Mario Hayes (4-6). Elegele knocked Hayes down twice in the third, including the left hand that left him for dead. Hayes, still had his head planted in the canvas when Kimmons rescued him at 2:51 of the round.

“Fighting for Haiti”
Sunrise, Fla.
April 10, 2010

WELTERWEIGHTS: Andre Berto, 146 ¼. Winter Haven, Fla. TKO’d Carlos Quintana, 146 ¼, Moca, Puerto Rico (8) (Retains WBC title)

Antwone Smith, 146 ¾, Miami, Fla. KO’d Franklin Gonzalez, 146 ¼,  Dominican Rep. (3)

Joe Elegele, 142 ½. Winter Haven, Fla. TKO’d Mario Haves, 156, Tallahassee, Fla. (3)

HEAVYWEIGHTS: Junier Dorticos, 208, Cuba KO’s Zack Ziegler, 208, Ft. Thomas, S. Dak. (1)

MIDDLEWEIGHTS: Jonathan Cepeda, 158 ¾, West Palm Beach, Fla. KO’’d Shadrack Kiprato, 159 ½, Nairobi, Kenya (2)

Willie Monroe Jr., 158, Ithaca, NY dec. Ibrahiem King, 160, West Palm Beach, Fla. (6)

Yudel Johnson, 156 ½, Cuba KO’d Chris Grays, 158 ¼, Traverse City, Mich. (1) Comment on this article

Articles of 2010

Judah To Fight Mbuza March 5 In NJ




Totowa, NJ – Kathy Duva, Main Events CEO, announced their promotional firm won the purse bid held at IBF headquarters in East Orange, NJ, Thursday. The bid was for the right to hold the IBF's junior welterweight title fight between Zab Judah of Brooklyn, NY and Las Vegas, and South Africa's Kaizer Mabuza.

IBF Championships Chairman, Lindsay Tucker explained, “It is a 50-50 split of the earnings between the two fighters. Kaizer is ranked No. 1 by the IBF, and Judah is No. 2. Where the fight will be held is up to the winning bidder.”

Judah (39-6, 26 KOs) is promoted by Main Events and his own firm Super Judah Promotions, and Branco Milenkovic, of South Africa, promotes Mabuza (23-6-3, 14 KOs).

Kathy Duva confirmed the fight will take place at Prudential Center in Newark, NJ, late February or early March this year as part of Main Events' Brick City Boxing Series.  (Saturday Update: the fight is March 5th, in NJ at the Pru Center. The bout will be part of a PPV card.)

“We are very happy that Zab has the opportunity to fight for the IBF Junior Welterweight title right here in New Jersey.  Winning this fight will put Zab right in the mix with the winner of Bradley-Alexander and Amir Khan.” Duva elaborated, ” Zab will work very hard to win this fight so that he will be one step closer to his ultimate goal of unifying all of the Junior Welterweight titles by the end of 2011!”

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Articles of 2010

UFC 125 Preview: Frankie Edgar Vs. Gray Maynard



Few predicted Frankie Edgar would grab the UFC lightweight championship last year but he did. Most felt he would eventually win it but Edgar not only took the title, he beat one of the best mixed martial artists in history to do it.

Edgar (13-1) has emerged from the milieu of nondescript MMA fighters to become one of the more brilliant performers for Ultimate Fighting Championship. Next comes a rematch with Gray “The Bully” Maynard (11-0) tomorrow at the MGM Grand Casino in Las Vegas. UFC 125 will be televised on pay-per-view.

All it took was not one, but two victories over BJ Penn.

If you’re not familiar with Penn, he’s one of the most versatile fighters in MMA history and had been nearly unbeatable in the 155-pound lightweight division. That is until he clashed with Edgar. Until he met New Jersey’s Edgar, the Hawaiian fighter chopped down lightweight opponents with ease. It was only the heavier welterweights he had problems against. Namely: Canada’s Georges St. Pierre.

Edgar showed poise, speed and grit in defeating Penn in back-to-back fights. The world took notice.

“You know, if I keep winning fights, the respect will come eventually,” said Edgar during a conference call.

Now Edgar will find out if he can avenge the only loss on his record.

“I just think I grew as a fighter. You know, mentally, you know, physically I, you know, possess differently skills, increased – you know, I think I boxed and got better, my Jiu-Jitsu got better and, you know, just have much more experience now,” Edgar says.

Maynard seeks to find out if Edgar has added any more fighting tools to his repertoire. Back in April 2008, the artillery shelled out was not enough to beat the Las Vegas fighter.

“It’s a perfect time. He had the chance and, you know, he took it and the time is now for me and I’m prepared,” said Maynard (11-0). “Any time you’re going up against the top in the world, you evolve and change and so I’m prepared for a new fight, so it will be good. I’m pumped for it.”

Though Maynard’s record indicates he is unbeaten that’s not entirely true. He did suffer a defeat to Nate Diaz during The Ultimate Fighter series and subsequently avenged that loss last January.

The UFC lightweight title is in Maynard’s bull’s eye.

“Looking to take the belt for sure,” said Maynard. “We’ll see on January 1.”

Edgar versus Maynard should be a good one.

Other bouts:

Nate Diaz (13-5) faces Dong Hyun Kim (13-0-1) in another welterweight tussle. Diaz is the only fighter with a win over Maynard. Anyone watching TUF remembers Maynard tapping out from a Diaz guillotine choke. The Modesto fighter has a tough fight against South Korea’s Kim.

Chris Leben (21-6) fights Brian Stann (9-3) in a middleweight fight. Leben is a veteran of MMA and if an opponent is not ready for a rough and tumble fight, well, that fighter is not going to win. Stann dropped down from light heavyweight and we’ll see if the cut in weight benefits the Marine.

Brandon Vera (11-5) meets Thiago Silva (14-2) in a light heavyweight match up. Vera is trying to rally back to the promising fighter he was tabbed several years back. Silva is a very tough customer and eager to crash the elite. A victory by either fighter could mean a ticket to the big time.

Clay Guida (27-8) versus Takanori Gomi (32-6) in a lightweight bout. Guida has become one of the most feared fighters without a title. No one has an easy time with the long-haired fighter. Gomi lost to Kenny Florian but knocked out Tyson Griffin. Can he survive Guida?

Marcus “The Irish Hand Grenade” Davis (22-8) clashes with Jeremy Stephens (18-6) in another lightweight fight. Davis is a go-for-broke kind of fighter and is looking to get back in the win column after a tumultuous battle with Nate Diaz last August. Stephens needs a win too. In his last bout he lost to Melvin Guillard.

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Articles of 2010

Borges Looks Back, And Forward With Hope




As the end of another year approaches, there’s no need to invoke Charles Dickens to describe what went on in boxing. It was neither the best of times nor the worst of times. It was just too much time spent on The Fight That Never Took Place.

For the second straight year the sport could not deliver The Fight, the only one fans universally wanted and even casual fans craved – the mix between Floyd Mayweather, Jr. vs. Manny Pacquiao.  No one has to be singled out for blame for that failure because this time there’s plenty to go around on both sides. The larger issue is what does it say about a sport when it cannot deliver its top event?

What would the NFL be without the Super Bowl? Where would major league baseball be without the World Series? Golf without the Masters? College basketball without March Madness?

They would all be less than they could be and so it was with boxing this year. Having said that, the sport was not without its signature moments. It was not bereft of nights that left those of us with an abiding (and often unrequited) love for prize fighting with good reason to hope for the future.

Three times promoter Bob Arum took the sport into massive stadium venues just like the good (very) old days and each time boxing drew a far larger crowd than its many critics expected. Twice those fights involved the sport’s leading ambassador, Pacquiao, who brought in crowds of 40,000 to 50,000 fans into Cowboys Stadium against inferior opponents Joshua Clottey and Antonio Margarito. Imagine what he might have done had Mayweather been in the opposite corner?

While both fights were, as expected, lopsided affairs, they showcased the one boxer who has transcended his sport’s confining walls to become a cultural icon and world celebrity. Pacquiao alone put boxing (or at least one boxer) on the cover of TIME and into the pages of such varied publications as Esquire, GQ, The Wall Street Journal, the American Airlines in-flight magazine and even Atlantic Monthly.

As history has proven time and again, that is what happens when boxing has a compelling personality to sell it and Pacquiao is that. Mayweather is such a person as well,  but for different reasons.

The one night he appeared in a boxing ring, he set the year’s pay-per-view standard against Shane Mosley while also leaving a first hint of dark mystery when he was staggered by two stinging right hands in the second round.

Mayweather was momentarily in trouble for the first time in his career but the moment passed quickly and Mosley never had another. By the end he had been made to look old and futile, a faded athlete who’d had his chance and was unable to do anything with it. So it goes in this harsh sport when the sands are running out of the hour glass.

As always there were some surprising upsets, most notably Jason Litzau’s domination of an uninterested and out of shape Celestino Caballero and Sergio Martinez’s one-punch demolishment of Paul Williams. The latter was not so much an upset as it was a stunning reminder that when someone makes a mistake against a highly skilled opponent in this sport they don’t end up embarrassed. They end up unconscious.

SHOWTIME did all it could to further the future of the sport, offering up a continuation of its interminably long but still bold Super Six super middleweight tournament as well as the launching of a short form bantamweight tournament which already gave fans to two stirring and surprising finishes with Joseph Agbeko decisioning Jhonny Perez and Abner Mares upsetting Victor Darchinyan in a battle of contusions.

While the Super Six has had its problems – including several of the original six pulling out – it also lifted the profile of former Olympic gold medalist Andre Ward from nearly unknown to the cusp of universal recognized as the best super middleweight in the world this side of Lucian Bute. If Ward continues winning he’ll get to Bute soon enough because that’s why SHOWTIME signed a TV deal with the Canadian and America may get its next boxing star if Ward proves to be what I think he is – which is still underrated and underappreciated.

HBO and HBO pay-per-view put on 23 shows, few of them compelling and many of them paying big money to the wrong people while doing little or nothing to grow the sport that has helped make their network rich. But they did have the knockout of the year – Martinez’s second round destruction of Williams – and some fights in the lower weight classes that were left you wanting more.

Two new names popped up who are causing the kind of fan reaction that also gives us hope for 2011 – American Brandon Rios and Mexican Saul Alvarez. They are two of the sport’s brightest young prospects because each comes to the arena the old-fashioned way – carrying nothing but bad intentions.
Aggression and knockouts still sell boxing faster than anything else and each exhibited plenty of both this year and left fans wanting to see more. Alvarez is already a star in Mexico without having yet won a world title and Rios is the definition of “promise.’’ Whether the star will continue to shine and promise will be fulfilled may be answered next year and so we wait anxiously to find out.

Backed by Golden Boy Promotions, there is no reason 2011 shouldn’t be Alvarez’s year and if it is people will notice and remember him because he has a crowd-pleasing style that is all about what sells most.

That is what boxing needs more of – fresh faces and new stars… so as fans we should root for guys like Alvarez, Ward, Rios and young Brit Amir Khan, who is a star in England but still a question mark with a questionable chin but a fighter’s heart here in the U.S.

Those guys and others not yet as well known are the future of boxing, a sport that for too long has been recycling the likes of Mosley (as it will again in May for one last beating against Pacquiao in a fight that's a joke), Bernard Hopkins (who can still fight although it is unclear why he bothers or where it’s all headed), Roy Jones and, sadly, even 48-year-old Evander Holyfield, who continues to delude himself but not many other people into believing he will soon unify the heavyweight title again.
If fighters like Ward, Alvarez, Rios, Khan, WBC welterweight champion Andre Berto and middleweight king Sergio Martinez continue their rise they could be the antidote for the art of the retread that Arum and Golden Boy have been forcing fans to buy the past few years at the expense of what boxing needs most – fresh faces.

The heavyweight division, which many believe determines the relevancy of boxing to the larger world, remains a vast desert of disinterest here in the US. The Klitschko brothers, Vitali and Wladimir, hold 75 per cent of the title belts but few peoples’ imaginations in the US, although to be fair they are European superstars and don’t really need U.S. cable TV money to thrive economically.

Each defended their titles twice this year, Vitali against lame competition (Albert Sosnowski and Shannon Briggs) and Wladimir against better fighters (Sam Peter and Eddie Chambers) but not competitive ones. Sadly, there is no American on the horizon to challenge them, a comment on the division and on our country, where the athletes who used to be Joe Louis or Muhammad Ali now opt for the easier and frankly safer road of the NFL or the NBA. Who can blame them considering all the nonsense a fighter has to go through to just make a living these days?

The one heavyweight match that would be compelling and might lift the sport up for at least a night would be either of the Klitschkos facing lippy WBA champion David Haye. The fast-talking Brit claims to not be ducking them but he’s had more maladies befall him after shouting from the rooftops how much he wants to challenge them that you have to wonder if Haye is simply a case of big hat no cattle syndrome.

For the sake of the sport, we should all be lighting candles each night in hopes our prayers will be answered and Haye will finally agree to meet one of them. It may not prove to be much of a fight but at least it will give us something to talk about for a few months.

Whatever Haye and the Klitschkos decide the fighter with the most upside at the moment however seems to be Sergio Martinez.  He has matinee idol looks, a big enough punch to put Paul Williams to sleep with one shot and a work ethic second to none. The Argentine fighter had a year for himself, starting with a drubbing of Kelly Pavlik followed by his demolishment of Williams. Those kinds of victories, coupled with his Oscar De La Hoya-like looks, are the type of things that if HBO or SHOWTIME would get behind him could allow Martinez to capture the attention of both fight fans and more casual ones.

In general, Hispanics fighters continued to dominate much of the sport’s front pages with Juan Manuel Marquez’s two victories in lightweight title fights leading that storyline. His war with Michael Katsidis is a strong candidate for Fight of the Year and his technical skill and calm demeanor make him the uncrowned challenger to Pacquiao. The two have unfinished business that should be settled this year if Arum stops standing in the way.

Two other fighters who gave us moments to remember in 2010 were Juan Manuel Lopez, who knocked out three solid opponents including highly respected Mexican warrior Rafael Marquez, and Giovani Segura, who won four times (that’s three years work for Mayweather) in 2010, all by knockout. Along the way, Segura defeated one of the great minimum weight fighters in history, slick Ivan Calderon, to win the belt on Aug. 28.

Lastly, boxing gave us another magical cinematic moment as well with the release of “The Fighter,’’ a film based on the life and hard times of junior welterweight scrapper Micky Ward. The film has won rave reviews and many awards and seems likely to have several of its actors nominated for Academy Awards, most notable Christian Bale for his sadly humorous portrayal of Ward’s troubled half brother, former fighter Dickie Ecklund.

Boxing has a long history of providing the framework for memorable movies and it did it again with “The Fighter,’’ a film that did more for boxing than any promoter did all year.

All in all, it wasn’t the best of years for boxing but it was a good year that picked up speed in the final months and, like that great golf shot you finally hit out of the rough on the 18th, left us with reasons to hope for a better year in 2011. If somehow it gives us Mayweather-Pacquiao, the emergence of Alvarez and Rios, the ascension of Martinez and Haye vs. the best available Klitschko in addition to the kind of solid performances that always come along, it could be a year to remember.

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